Dozens of Advocacy Groups Challenge EPA on Factory Farm Pollution
WASHINGTON – While the Trump administration orders the EPA do less to protect Americans from dirty air and water, and Congress threatens to dismantle the agency altogether, Food & Water Watch and 34 advocacy organizations are demanding that the agency do more to protect communities from factory farms.
Today, the groups filed a legal petition with Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), citing its duty under the law to hold concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs or factory farms) accountable for their water pollution, which threatens public health and the environment.
The petition asks EPA to overhaul its regulations for how CAFOs are regulated under the federal Clean Water Act and its permitting program, noting that current rules fail to prevent pollution and protect communities.
But the EPA is legally bound to protect communities from pollution, and we intend to hold the agency accountable for doing its job.” Clean water advocates have experienced Pruitt’s weak record on CAFO pollution in Oklahoma.
“I have seen beautiful rivers turn green as a result of runoff from CAFOs,” said Earl Hatley, Oklahoma’s Grand Riverkeeper.
The vast quantities of manure generated from CAFOs are typically disposed of, untreated, on cropland, where it can seep or run off to pollute waterways and drinking water sources.
“That’s why we’re standing with other organizations from around the U.S. who care about social justice to demand that Scott Pruitt’s EPA take action to ensure that regulations for factory farms protect the interests of all communities, not Big Ag.” “Even in Wisconsin, where all CAFOs are required to have Clean Water Act permits, water contamination from mega-dairies is a widespread and growing threat to public health.
It also asks the EPA to require large corporate integrators that control CAFO practices to obtain permits, instead of just their contract producers, who currently bear the burden of following permits and managing waste.
The petition further asks EPA to strengthen permits in several ways, including: requiring pollution monitoring and reporting, as is required of virtually all other industries; restricting waste disposal in order to better protect water quality; and regulating CAFO discharges of a wider range of pollutants than permits currently address, including the heavy metals and pharmaceuticals found in industrial livestock waste.
Lenient laws and regulations have made Iowa a haven for corporate polluters.